Full Speed Ahead

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Mary Best Sleep Savvy magazine editor in chief
Mary Best
Editor in Chief

Tech advancements are driving changes in mattress retailing. Are you keeping pace?

About a year ago, I decided it was time for a new car. My sedan, which had served me well for many years, began to have mechanical problems, and the factory paint job — once a rich, shiny black— had faded badly and was peeling like the sunburns I got as a teenager during summers on North Carolina’s beaches.

As wise mattress shoppers do, I did research on review and dealer websites, took test drives and settled on a sporty new Honda Civic, not the tiniest of blemishes marring its Rallye Red finish. I’ve never had a problem finding it in a parking lot.

I learned quickly how much automotive technology has changed since I’d bought my last car. Although the salesperson patiently explained my new vehicle’s features and functions, as soon as I drove off the lot, I struggled with the basics. Where were the knobs and buttons I was accustomed to after decades of driving? Today’s vehicles are essentially computers on wheels, and there I was, zipping down the road at 50 mph thanks to Riley’s smooth handling, basically trying to program a computer just to listen to the radio.

Eventually — and usually from the safety of my driveway — I figured out most of my car’s functions and now love the high-tech features, including being able to connect my phone to the car for hands-free phone calls while driving. And, although they took more getting used to, I also appreciate other tech-enabled safety features, such as those that keep me from crossing solid lines on the roadway and drifting into another lane.

The fact that technological innovations are changing our lives in ways big and small every day is as true in mattress retailing as it is in automotives. In this issue, writer Julie A. Palm delves into five tech trends that are reshaping retail, from how inventory is managed throughout the supply chain to how customers pay for their purchases. These advancements make retailers more efficient and profitable, and also better able to serve customers who want no-hassle, seamless shopping personalized to their needs and lifestyles.

As Shelley Bransten of Microsoft says in the article, “…In the past, technology simply helped retailers do what they’ve always done, only better, faster and more effectively. Now, retailers are embedding tech into every step along the supply chain and purchase path. Each phase of the end-to-end retail experience … now has the opportunity to be consumer-first and personalized.”

Some of these innovations may take some getting used to — for both retailers and consumers. As a shopper, I admit I’m not sure I’m ready for facial recognition to be used in my favorite stores, but I like the idea of payment systems that keep my personal data safer.

But, as Bransten says, “there’s never been a more exciting time to be in the retail industry,” and I look forward to seeing how far mattress sellers can travel along this new tech-enabled retail roadway.